Social Security Disability Benefits for Depression | Monthly Disability Benefits |SSD | SSDI | SSI

What is Depression?

Thousands of American suffer from clinical depression, a mood disorder characterized by feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration. In fact, a full 16 percent of Americans will suffer from major depression in their lifetimes. Depression is not something a person can just “snap out of,” as the symptoms interfere with a person’s ability to function in everyday life. Depression is caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals and often requires medication, therapy, and time to recover from it fully.

Many people wonder if the Social Security Administration considers depression to be a disability that would qualify them for monthly SSI or SSDI payments. The answer is yes; those who suffer from a mental illness such as depression are entitled to monthly disability benefits from the SSA, just as someone who cannot work due to a physical illness would be. It is important to note, however, that the outcome of your claim will depend on a number of factors, including the severity of your depression and its duration.

Symptoms of Depression

The following symptoms are some of the hallmark signs of depression. You may be suffering from depression if you exhibit four of these symptoms.

  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness;
  • Pervasive loss of interest in almost all activities;
  • Difficulty concentrating or thinking;
  • Hallucinations, delusions, or paranoid thinking;
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation;
  • Decreased energy;
  • Sleep disturbance;
  • Thoughts of suicide;
  • Appetite disturbance with change in weight;

If you suffer from four of the symptoms listed above and you also have difficulties with two of the following "activities of daily living," it is likely the Social Security Administration will classify your depression as being severe enough to qualify you as disabled. The four categories follow below:

  • Marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; or
  • Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration;
  • Marked restriction of activities of daily living; or
  • Marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning;

If your depression has been medically documented and has persisted for two years and limited your ability to hold down a job, it is likely you will qualify for Social Security disability benefits. We can connect you with a skilled and experienced Social Security lawyer who can look over your case and weigh your chances of being categorized as disabled.

Social Security Disability Benefits & Depression

The Social Security Administration will want to review all of your medical records, including any pertaining to treatment for depression. These may include records from any psychiatrists, counselors, mental health clinics, hospitals or in-patient treatment facilities where you have received medication, counseling, therapy or other treatment for your mental illness. Records from a doctor who has seen you for a long period of time will generally carry more weight than those from a physician you have only seen once. It is crucial for your Social Security disability application that your records be as complete and up-to-date as possible.

A licensed mental health professional or physician must evaluate your condition and decide your depression will both prevent you from working and will persist for more than a year. We have developed a network of experienced Social Security attorneys and Social Security law firms that can evaluate your case and help you file for benefits. A skilled Social Security lawyer will be able to present evidence about your depression in the most compelling way possible in your application, therefore we recommend contacting a lawyer before you apply to increase your chances of being approved in the first stage of the process.

Five Tips for Coping with Depression

  1. Manage your stress levels. Stress can both prolong depression and magnify its symptoms, so it is crucial to determine what stresses you out and find ways to avoid or cope with them. Once you have isolated problem areas, you can develop strategies to minimize their impact on your life.
  2. Relationships matter. Keeping in touch with a network of supportive friends and family can do a great deal to improve your outlook and lift the fog of depression. You should feel comfortable sharing your feelings with a few trustworthy friends. Additionally, the very act of getting out of bed and out of the house can do wonders for one's mood when feeling blue. You could also consider joining a support group that deals with depression where you could find friends who are experiencing the exact same thing you are.
  3. Live a healthy life. There are some simple steps you can take to improve your mood, such as getting outdoors, sleeping eight hours a night, eating healthy foods or engaging in yoga or other physical activity. The endorphins your body releases during and after exercise have long been considered natural antidepressants. You should strive to get thirty minutes of physical activity a day, even if it just a brisk walk around the neighborhood.
  4. Seek help. Some depression is so deep that only a mental health professional can help you. You should be open and honest with your doctor about what you are feeling and follow their prescribed course of treatment. When screening applicants for disability, the SSA likes to see that an applicant has taken active steps to recover for their illness. They are unlikely to approve an application where a person does not listen to their doctor or attempt to get better. A Social Security lawyer can look over your mental health records to see if seeking further treatment might help your case.
  5. Nuture yourself. You should set aside time to engage in the activities you have always brought you joy. You could consider picking up an old hobby, such as tennis or reading. You can also reach out to others to engage in this activity with you or join a club dedicated to the activity. You should push yourself outside of your comfort zone and back out into the world.